The long-running saga of selling F-16s to Iraq has come to an end with Lockheed Martin winning an $835 million foreign military sales contract to provide 18 aircraft.

The Defense Department award on Dec. 5 covers 12 F-16C and six F-16D Block 52 aircraft, plus spares and support, and runs through May 2018. The work is expected to keep the production line in Fort Worth running through 2015 and is the first firm F-16 order for Lockheed Martin in more than a year.

Iraq began negotiating the purchase of F-16s in 2009 as part of efforts to bolster its air force, which currently has a fixed-wing combat capability consisting solely of a handful of Hellfire-missile-equipped Cessna Caravans. A planned move to make a down payment on the purchase in February was put off when the money was diverted to the country’s food ration program.

However, the deal was revived at midyear and officially announced in September. Iraq eventually will be the 26th nation to operate F-16s.